With your playoffs in full flow, it’s time to get serious. You’ve got to win, I want to see you win, and the way to win is to be bold and play the right guys in the right matchups. The playoffs aren’t the time to be loyal to the guys who have got you there. Michael Thomas may have carried you into the post-season but you can’t afford to have him lay an egg this week against Patrick Peterson.
In the week 15 edition of The Four Downs I’m going to propose four fantasy ‘would you rather’ suggestions and then argue the case for one player over the other.
Choosing Cousins over Rodgers may not sound significantly outlandish, but when you consider Rodgers is the QB1 and has nine more passing TDs than Cousins, you begin to understand why this makes me sound crazy.
However, there is method to my madness. Rodgers has been struggling with a calf strain, the same injury that hampered him throughout the 2014 postseason, and these such injuries tend to flare up in cold weather. As if right on cue, Rodgers’ week 15 matchup is against the Bears in Chicago where the weather is meant to reach an all-time franchise low. Cold weather games often result in fewer passing opportunities too and so Rodgers volume is likely to take a hit.This game is also the last meaningful game on the Bears schedule and they would love nothing more than to spoil the Packers season. When you combine the weather, rivalry game aspect and the fact Chicago has a sneakily good pass defense, the sixth best in the league, Rodgers may be in for a tougher game than many think.
Kirk Cousins, the QB4, however is likely to have another stellar fantasy performance as Washington face a surprisingly easy matchup in the Carolina Panthers in week 15. The Panthers pass defense are desperately missing Josh Norman this season as they rank 2nd worst against wide receivers and dead last in tight end defense. Washington sport the most diverse receiving corps in the NFL and love to pass the ball and with Jordan Reed one game further removed from injury, Cousins will have his favorite redzone target back. Adding all this together, Cousins and pals are in for a field day in week 15.
Choosing Cousins over Rodgers may not sound too crazy but you must be beginning to question my sanity with this quarterback choice. However, hear me out.
Kaepernick and the 49ers face a herculean task in the offensive juggernaut that is the Atlanta Falcons in their matchup this week. The 49ers have a historically bad defense and so Matty Ice will more than likely have his way for the entirety of Sunday afternoon. However, this means that the 49ers will be behind and that Kaepernick’s volume will be off the charts as they will be forced to pass to keep up with the high-flying Falcons.
The Falcons secondary is the worst pass defense in the NFL and as a whole Atlanta’s defense lacks speed. Kaepernick can take advantage of these factors and have a big day in both the passing game and the running game. This game will fall entirely on Kaepernick’s shoulders and so with that amount of volume I believe the QB28 will outscore the QB2…feel free to @ me.
T.Y. Hilton has been fantasy gold this year. Hilton is second in receiving yardage and is the fantasy WR5 through fourteen weeks. Pierre Garcon on the other hand has only topped 100 yards once this year and sits as the WR35.
However, in week 15 Hilton faces the D/ST1 in the Minnesota Vikings who have been known to wipe receivers off the face of the earth. Hilton’s game relies on his speed as the primary source for separation. Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes however currently owns the fastest speed of any player in the NFL this year and so can easily go toe-to-toe with Hilton in a foot race and is too physical for Hilton to overpower. Star QB Andrew Luck has been struggling recently too, especially behind a torrid offensive line and is likely to be destroyed by the Vikings Purple People Eaters 2.0 in Linval Joseph, Sharrif Floyd, Everson Griffen and Anthony Barr. Hilton has also shown this year that when he struggles, he STRUGGLES. Hilton has six single digit fantasy outings this year and you can’t afford to have this happen in the playoffs.
A man who is nothing but consistent however is Washington’s Pierre Garcon. In the five games since Garcon’s bye he has averaged over 75 yards per game and has caught two TDs in the last four weeks. Garcon is a lock for 70-80 yards every week and could always be buoyed with a touchdown too. Garcon is likely to play even better this week as I outlined earlier with Kirk Cousins. DeSean Jackson may eat into Garcon’s production but Jackson either has a huge day or a miniscule day due to the boom/bust nature of his game and so due to Garcon’s consistent play he is a lock for solid production, especially against a woeful Panthers secondary.
Delanie Walker has been one of the best tight ends in the NFL this season, evidenced by his TE3 ranking in fantasy. However, this week he faces the Kansas City Chiefs and their defense, one of the best units in the entire league. The Chiefs have the 3rd best defense against TEs and together with their great pass rushers and strangling secondary, Titans QB Marcus Mariota is likely to struggle and thus so will Walker.
Jason Witten on the other hand has done nothing the last few weeks. Since his huge fantasy day against the Browns, Witten has become less and less productive in the offense. However, the Cowboys week 15 opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will have to focus on stopping the Cowboys superstars Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant, leaving the wily Witten to take advantage of the space left by linebackers stacking the box to contain Zeke.
Thank you for reading the week 15 edition of The Four Downs, please come back next week for the Week 16 edition! Follow Will Pendleton on twitter @willpendosports and check him out on the Fantasy Football Hot Read podcast for a fantasy recap of all the football action from every Sunday on the 30 Minute Drill show.